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Full text of "War, this war and the sermon on the mount"



So 9 



V3 




cond Series 

APERS FOR WAR TIME. No. 20 



War, This War and 
The Sermon on the Mount 



By 

B. H. STREETER, M.A. 



Price Twopence 



HUMPHREY MILFORD 

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 

LONDON EDINBURGH GLASGOW NEW YORK 

TORONTO MELBOURNE BOMBAY 



■ ' '.'% ■ '. % W'-- ^:^W^^ ■ ~ ' '■■{ V-CM^m0^ 



PAPERS FOR WAR TIME 



First Sebtes. Already published. 

1. CHRISTIANITY AND WAR. By the Rev. W. 
Temple, M.A. 

2. ARE WE WORTH FIGHTING FOR ? By the 
Rev. Richard Roberts. 

3. THE WOMAN'S PART. By Mrs. Luke Paget. 

4. BROTHERS ALL: THE WAR AND THE 
RACE QUESTION. By Edwyn Bevan, M.A. 

5. THE DECISIVE HOUR: IS IT LOST ? By J. H. 

Oldham, M.A. 

6. ACTIVE SERVICE: THE SHARE OF THE 
NON-COMBATANT. By the Rev. W. R, Maltby. 

7. THE WAR SPIRIT IN OUR NATIONAL LIFE. 

By the Rev. A. Herbert Gray, M.A. 

8. CHRISTIAN CONDUCT IN WAR TIME. By 

W. H. MOBERLY, M.A. 

9. THE WITNESS OF THE CHURCH IN THE 
PRESENT CRISIS. By X. 

10. THE REAL WAR. By the Rev. W. E. Orchard, 

D.D. 

11. LOVE CAME DOWN AT CHRISTMAS. By 

Professor G. Hare Leonard, M.A. 

12. AN ANSWER TO BERNHARDI. By the Rev. 
Professor D. S. Cairns, D.D. 



Second Scries 

PAPERS FOR WAR TIME. No. 20 

WAR, THIS WAR A¥D THE 

SERMON ON THE MOUNT 

BY 
B. H. STREETER, M.A. 



HUMPHREY MILFORD 

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 

LONDON EDINBURGH GLASGOW NEW YORK 

TORONTO MELBOURNE BOMBAY 

1915 



^^^ 



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BASIS OF PUBLICATION 

This series of Papers is based on the following convictions : 

1. That Great Britain Avas in August morally bound to 

declare war and is no less bound to carry the war 
to a decisive issue ; 

2. That the war is none the less an outcome and a revela- 

tion of the un -Christian principles which have dominated 
the life of Western Christendom, and of which both 
the Church and the nations have need to repent ; 

3. That followers of Christ, as members of the Church, 

are linked to one another in a fellowship which 
transcends all divisions of nationality or race ; 

4. That the Christian duties of love and forgiveness are 

as binding in time of war as in time of peace ; 

5. That Christians are bound to recognize the insufficiency 

of mere compulsion for overcoming evil and to place 
supreme reliance upon spiritual forces and in particular 
upon the power and method of the Cross ; 

6. That only in proportion as Christian principles dictate 

the tern]§_^of settlement will^a real and lasting peace 

be secure'd ^ ' . '•/' - '' •*•' ; .* 

7. That it is the. duty, o,f the Churph to make an altogether 

new effort' t(>i:feaiizpfaiKl'\Sipply to all the relations 
of life its own positive ideal of brotherhood and 
fellowship ; 

8. That with God all things are possible. 



WAR, THIS WAR AND THE 
SERMON ON THE MOUNT 

War is possible only in a civilization which is not yet 
Christian ; nevertheless, this country was and is morally 
bound to fight out this war. Such in brief is the con- 
tention for which this series of Papers stands. But, it 
may be objected, is such a position really tenable ? Are 
not those more consistent who say that the precepts of 
the Sermon on the Mount will not under any circumstances 
countenance war ? ' My Kingdom is not of this world, 
else would my servants fight ; ' and is it not mere common 
sense to argue that the wholesale massacre and maiming 
of hundreds of thousands of innocent persons is the worst 
possible way of furthering the reign of peace and goodwill 
on earth ? 

Plausible as this objection is, and able and sincere as 
are many of those who urge it, I believe it to be pro- 
foundly mistaken. It is not war which is the real evil 
but the state of mind which leads to war. War at least 
has its nobler side — not so the domineering temper, the 
suspicion and hatred, the lust for aggrandizement and 
wealth which result in wars. War is but a symptom, it is 
against the disease that the Christian should contend, and 
at times he must be prepared literally to use the knife. 

Christianity is neither a code of law nor a system of 
ethics ; it is a summons to adventure. Christ came not 
as Lawgiver or Sage, not as a superior Moses or a superior 
Confucius, but as Captain of a forlorn hope. Christianity 
and Prussianism are at one and the same time closely 
akin and bitterly opposed. Both strive for the empire 
of the world and the dominance of their own Kultur. 
Both call for hardness and discipline ; both elicit heroism 
and sacrifice. But to the Christian world-empire means 
the Kingdom of God, and its Kultur the spirit of liberty 
and love. As the aims differ, so necessarily do the methods 
employed ; but Christianity is war. Every follower of 
Christ must serve on some crusade. Thus the Sermon 

3 

399169 



WAR, THIS WAR AND 

on the Mount is not to be read as a set of rules and 
regulations but as a battle-song — the Canticle of the 
Knighthood of the Cross — not its letter but its spirit 
matters. 

Let us try to apprehend this spirit. 

' Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an 
eye and a tooth for a tooth.' Man's instinct for vengeance 
recks not of limitation. ' Were every individual hair a life 
my great revenge hath stomach for them all.' ' Reward 
thou them, O Lord, sevenfold into their bosom,' But 
the Law laid down a limit. For injury done let a strict 
equivalent be exacted, an eye for an eye — no more. The 
lex talionis is the first great step forward. But Christ 
asks more than this, ' If a man smite thee on thy right 
cheek, turn to him the other also.' The injured Christian 
is to seek for no reprisal at all, however ' just ' the 
equivalent ; the instinct of revenge is to be utterly 
repressed. But even that is not enough. Not only is 
revenge to be renounced, it is to be transformed into the 
contrary passion, ' Love your enemies, do good to them 
that hate you,' 

The aggressor, like oneself, is, potentially at least, a child 
of God, a brother whose good is to be sought. The extent 
to which that good is sought and gained is the final test 
of motive and of conduct. In a particular case it may 
be that this end will be best attained by literally turning 
to him the other cheek, in another case it may be better 
attained in a very different way, A soft answer does 
not always turn away wrath, and experience shows that, 
where remonstrance has failed, punishment sometimes 
succeeds in producing a changed heart. If such cases 
ever occur, as I would submit they do, though rarely, 
the hard blow is surely on that occasion a more Christian 
act than a soft answer. Nevertheless, such is the infirmity 
of human character, such the subtle power of self-decep- 
tion in the human breast, that when an injured party 
returns the blow, saying and even thinking that he does 
it ' for the aggressor's good ', he is oftenest mistaken. 
The literal strictness of the Quaker may be — in my opinion 
it is — an error, but in most cases it is an error in the 

4 



THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT 

right direction. The true Christian will always begin 
with the policy of the soft answer ; only if that fails 
will he consent to try a coarser way. And that it will 
sometimes fail the Gospel also recognizes — ' If thy brother 
sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee 
and him alone : if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy 
brother. But if he hear thee not, take with thee one or 
two more, that at the mouth of two witnesses or three 
every word may be established. And if he refuse to hear 
them, tell it unto the church : and if he refuse to hear 
the church also, let him be unto thee as the Gentile and 
the publican ' (Matt, xviii. 15-17). 

' Love your enemies,' verily and indeed — but it is also 
written, ' thou shalt love thy neighbour.' Take as 
literally as you like the words, ' If a man smite thee on 
the right cheek, turn to him the other also ' — yet there 
is one thing they cannot mean — ' If a man smite thy 
sister on the cheek look the other way.' If a wanton 
injury is threatened to one weaker than myself and 
I have power to prevent that injury, then, if I fail to 
exercise that power, I become morally a particeps criininis, 
and no casuistry can absolve me from complicity in the 
injury itself. No act is more essentially Christlike than 
the deliverance of the oppressed. Even if in a particular 
case the threatened party would be willing in the name 
of Christ to submit to the injury, it is no whit less my 
duty to prevent the wrong being done — if possible by 
persuasion, if not by force. The knight-errant riding the 
world in search of distressed damsels to succour is as 
good a Christian as the Quaker literally turning the 
other cheek. 

' If possible by persuasion, if not by force ' I have 
written, but it is just to the addition of the words ' by 
force ' that many thoughtful men. Christian and other- 
wise, will demur. Can force ever, it is asked, prevent 
wrong ? And, if so, under what circumstances and with 
what limitations ? On the answer to this depends the 
answer to the further question whether a Christian can 
ever justify war. 

Our ancestors had a wholly exaggerated view of the 

5 



WAR, THIS WAR AND 

moralizing influence of force, especially as exhibited in 
the form of punishment. The legislator revelled in the 
gallows, the schoolmaster in the rod, the preacher in 
the fires of hell. An acute reaction from all this has led 
many modern thinkers to deny that the use of force can 
under any circumstances serve a moral or educative pur- 
pose. In fact in some quarters there seems to be an almost 
Manichaean outlook — as if force were something evil in 
itself. Force, like matter, is neutral, and only becomes 
good or evil according to the use men make of it. Many 
people forget that discipline must precede liberty and 
that the Gospel must follow the Law. Were the world 
really Christian the Gospel would suffice, but in a world — 
and a Church — which is scarcely beginning to be Christian 
we cannot yet altogether dispense with the Law. 

Self-engrossment is a standing weakness of human 
nature, and very often we are startled to find that even 
persons of a kindly disposition and of high ideals are 
curiously obtuse to the claims and interests of others 
when these happen to conflict with their own. This 
obtuseness, combined with the instinct of vanity and 
self-assertion, which from early infancy is a conspicuous 
element in some, and is to some extent present in most 
characters, readily leads the individual to take for granted 
in himself or herself a certain native superiority which 
bestows a quasi-moral right to domineer. Where such 
a claim is met with non-resistance, or with a resistance 
which is readily overcome, the character rapidly acquires 
that domineering insolence and tendency to wanton 
aggression which the Greeks described by the untranslat- 
able word v^pis. One who has never ' burnt his fingers ', 
as the saying is, can easily fancy himself a superman. 

The strength of this tendency to domineering insolence 
or v/3pi9 varies enormously with individual temperament, 
and its potency in later life depends largely on the wisdom 
or the unwisdom of early training. In such training the 
wise parent and the wise schoolmaster will rely in the 
first place upon personal influence and moral suasion ; 
where this fails they will be compelled to resort to punish- 
ment — that is, to the use of force. There are some theorists 

6 



THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT 

who hold that punishment can, and therefore should, 
be dispensed with. Given a perfect parent or a perfect 
schoolmaster, bringing up a child in a perfect environ- 
ment, this might be possible. Even amid the demoralizing 
influences of this imperfect world there are a few who 
come near to achieving it. But very few parents or 
teachers have the exceptional character to enable them 
to do this ; and experience shows that in our present 
stage of moral progress the average parent and the average 
schoolmaster can only dispense with punishment at the 
price of producing that ethical disaster known as the 
' spoilt child '. 

Children are punished not because they are physically 
immature but because they are morally so, and whenever 
grown-up persons still show conspicuously that they are 
morally immature, the fact that they are physically 
grown up is irrelevant. v^pi9 unfortunately is rarely 
eliminated in childhood, and in the greater power and 
freedom of maturer years the consequences of vfSpL^ are 
far more serious both for the offender and his victims. 
Hence the need for the policeman and the magistrate. 

v(3pL? is the precise opposite of the quality of mercy. 
It curseth him that gives and him that takes. In a world 
where all injured persons were perfect Christians, ready 
not only to turn the other cheek but also to love the 
smiter, aggression would still do moral harm to the 
aggressor by feeding his already overweening v^pis, but 
it would do no moral harm to the injured party, for it 
would call out new depths of Christian activity. But in 
the actual world in which we live the aggrieved are far 
from being perfect Christians, and aggression breeds in 
them, not love for their enemies, but envy, hatred, malice, 
and all uncharitableness. This is not a mere matter of 
theory ; it is a fact of experience. In countries like the 
Balkan States, where violence and injustice have run 
riot for centuries, the general moral level cannot be 
compared with that of countries in which law and order 
have long prevailed. And it may safely be aflfirmcd that 
the moral level in each of the various countries of the 
world varies exactly with the impartiality, efficiency and 

7 



WAR, THIS WAR AND 

lumianity of its system of administering justice and the 
length of time it has enjoyed good government. The work 
of the policeman and the magistrate may not be strictly 
evangelistic, it is at least a praeparatio evangelica. Tolstoi, 
with the passion of a convert and the persuasiveness of 
a genius, has urged that the literal carrying out of the 
precept, ' Resist not evil,' involves the abolition of the 
machinery of justice as well as that of war. In logic 
he is right. But the business of a Christian is to work 
out, not the logic of a phrase, but the redemption of 
the world. 

There are, however, many who accept the literalism 
of Tolstoi without his logic, who admit that in education, 
and in the administration of justice, the use of force may 
subserve a moral end, but deny that this can ever be the 
case where force takes the form of shedding blood, who 
feel no scruple against the employment of the policeman 
but decline to call in the soldier. I confess I fail to see 
the rationale of this distinction. The baton of the police- 
man would be powerless were it not known that in the 
last resort it has behind it the rifle of the soldier. When 
a body of desperadoes is prepared to resist the enforcement 
of the law with arms, it is only with arms that the law 
can be enforced. To maintain that the State is justified 
in using force, provided that it stops short at the shedding 
of blood, is to compel it to abrogate its function whenever 
a more than usually ferocious band of criminals appears — 
that is to say, just on those occasions when it is most 
needed. The Sidney Street incident is a case in point. 
But though the authority of the law depends ultimately 
on the rifle in reserve, the actual calling in of the soldier 
is admittedly a confession of the failure of the law — if we 
may use the term ' law ' to cover the social and economic 
organization of society in general, as well as the actual 
administration of justice. It is only where there is some- 
thing defective in the social organism that the conditions 
arise in which the soldier has to be called in. In this 
country, with all the imperfections of its legal and social 
system, circumstances which call for the enforcement of 
the Riot Act occur but rarely. In an improved society 

8 



THE 8ERM0N ON THE MOUNT 

they would never occur. The duty, then, of the Christian 
is to do what in liiin lies to further this improvement, 
but if in the meanwhile circumstances arise which demand 
that justice, or at least such relative justice as such 
circumstances admit of, can only be upheld by force of 
arms, he will not deprecate their use. 

But what about war ? War raises questions which 
seem to go deeper than the ethics of the Riot Act. An 
aggressive war, it needs no saying, cannot be justified ; 
but what of a war in self-defence, or in defence of weaker 
nations ? Granted that some nation wantonly breaks 
the world's peace, and sets about to pillage or enslave 
another ; may that other nation or its allies meet war 
with war ? May the Riot Act be read over the offender ? 
Can an ' indictment be brought against a whole people ' ? 
Where is the tribunal to decide the case ? And how can 
a punishment be just or beneficial which inevitably falls 
with equal severity on that portion of the nation which 
was guiltless of the outrage and that which was responsible ? 
Minorities desire, and governments declare, war ; peoples 
suffer from it. 

The irrationality and the injustice inevitable in any 
war, on behalf of whatever cause, need little explication. 
War is and must be evil. Yet I would urge that under 
certain circumstances, the Christian will choose it as the 
lesser evil. History shows us that what I have spoken 
of as v^pis — incapacity to tolerate an equal, obtuse- 
ness to the claims and rights of others — is a fault of 
nations as well as of individuals. France and Britain 
have not been immune from this blatant national egoism. 
Germany, with characteristic thoroughness, has even 
made a gospel of it. But in a nation the consequences 
to others of such a spirit may be catastrophic. It leads 
to a policy of conquest which may mean for centuries 
the oppression of millions. And oppression, except in 
the case of quite unusually gifted characters, inevitably 
means degradation. Virtue no doubt can exist in spite 
of slavery, but liberty is the mother of self-respect, and 
where self-respect is made difficult, virtue rarely abounds. 
A nation fighting for its liberty is fighting for a moral end. 

9 



WAR, THIS WAR AND 

Germany, so it seems to us, has forced on this war, 
has set out deliberately to ' crush France ' — what a sum 
of misery is implied in such a phrase ! — coercing Belgium 
by the way, while her ally ' chastises ' Servia, with the 
ultimate ambition thereby to dominate Europe, and 
through Europe the world. Some one ought to set them- 
selves to prevent the contemplated oppression, to vindi- 
cate the liberty and the public law of Europe. Britain, 
France, and Russia have taken up the task. 

But who are we, and who are our allies, that we should 
take upon ourselves to play the magistrate, to read the 
Riot Act, and to order troops to fire on a disturber of 
the peace ? What reader of history can fail to ask that 
question ? What likelihood is there that we and our 
allies will rise superior to ancient rivalries, to humilia- 
tions old and recent ; what chance is there that we shall 
judge the case with absolute fairness and exact no more 
than the punishment deserved ? A German may well ask 
that : and there is the great difficulty. In international 
affairs there is no impartial authority to enforce the 
law. In international affairs Judge Lynch is the only 
judge, and his justice is, at best, a rough justice, at the 
worst, no justice at all. What then ? Because no ideal 
tribunal is forthcoming, is the offender to go unchecked, 
to the detriment alike of his own and his victim's moral 
sense ? Surely not. The Christian may hope that in 
the future, somehow or other, whether by some further 
development of ' Holy Alliances ' or of Hague Tribunals 
and the like, some means will be found of securing 
a relatively impartial tribunal with coercive powers to 
enforce its verdict. But till that is done he must recognize 
that Lynch law is better than no law, and under certain 
circumstances he must be prepared to draw the sword. 

But what, we must ask, is likely to be the effect of 
such coercion on the offending nation ? Can Satan 
drive out Satan ? Will aggressive militarism be killed 
by force ? We cannot tell, but history at least shows 
that Chauvinism, as it is fed by victory, is sometimes 
cured by defeat ; 1870 changed the character of France, 
and the humiliating fact that it took a world-wide 

10 



THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT 

Empire three years to subdue two Boer Republics has done 
much to cure another country of the same disease. 

A view fundamentally opposed to what I have main- 
tained has been popularized of late, which is sometimes 
called the ' martyr nation ' theory. It is contended that 
war will end when, and only when, some nation is prepared 
totally to disarm and to take the consequences. Some 
of those who advocate the theory anticipate that the 
moral effect of such an act would be so great that no 
other nation would as a matter of fact attack it by 
arms or rob it by diplomacy. Others think that more 
probably the nation would have not only to be willing 
to suffer, but would actually have to suffer spoliation and 
oppression. 

On this theory I would remark : (a) Such action 
would have no moral value, unless the vast majority of 
the nation were in favour of it. A minority or a bare 
majority temporarily in power would have no right to 
carry out such a policy. I may, for Christ's sake, suffer 
my own goods to be despoiled ; I have no right to compel 
my neighbour to do so. (6) It would have no moral 
value, unless the nation really understood what it was 
doing — that is, unless the majority of citizens had come 
to put a very different value on the good things of life, 
as against abstract principle, to what they do to-day. 
If a householder who is ready to hand over a burglar to 
the police ; if a tradesman who is ready to sue for his 
debts ; if a worlonan who is ready to strike against 
a reduction of wages, votes for total disarmament, he 
can only do so because he does not really grasp the 
meaning and possible consequences of the policy. No 
nation will be prepared in the name of Christ to face the 
possibility of abject poverty and possibly of virtual 
slavery as well, realizing fuUy what these mean, rather 
than go to war, until the vast majority of its individual 
members have reached a stage of moral development 
hitherto undreamt of. But the inter-relation and inter- 
action of humanity is such that no one nation can be 
very far in advance of the general level of civilized 
peoples, and no nation could reach the stage of ethical 

11 



WAR, THIS WAR AND 

development contemplated by the martyr-nation theory, 
until the rest of the civilized world had also reached 
a stage at which war would long ago have become 
impossible. 

Wars arise because nations are quarrelsome and self- 
seeking ; and nations are that because the individuals 
composing them are so. Change human nature and wars 
will of course cease, but I am not content to wait so long 
as that. Human nature can be changed — that is what 
Christianity exists to do — but it will not be soon, and 
the change will not be effected entirely, or even prin- 
cipally, by talking. Nations for centuries to come will 
have disputes to settle ; what we have to do is to 
find some icay of settling them other than ivar. When 
nations have got out of the habit of always expecting 
to fight each other, they will begin to understand each 
other — and in proportion as they do this they will have 
fewer disputes to settle. We are on the way to becoming 
Christian, and therefore wish to abolish war, but we 
cannot really become Christian till long after wars 
have ceased. The abolition of war must be worked 
for as a necessary stage in the improvement of human 
nature, not waited for as the crowning result of that 
improvement. 

How is this to be begun ? Some tell us that martyr- 
dom will at any rate be needed, of individuals if not 
of nations. Rumour has it that in Germany Socialists 
have consented to be shot rather than take up arms, 
Martjrrdom is never wholly wasted, and such actions 
will at least make others think. But such a course is 
not open to an Englishman. In this country a con- 
scientious objector may suffer indeed, but never unto 
death ; and yet nothing less than death would count at 
all in this matter. Two million men at arms to-day 
are ready to die for England, and one who would seem 
a martyr must not do less than these. But in this country, 
at this moment, and in this cause, martyrs are not the 
prime need. It is only at the start that great causes 
require martyrdom ; afterwards they need patient 
thought and hard work and a long course of minor and 

12 



THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT 

unnoticed sacrifice. Martyrdom advertises problems ; 
it does not solve them. In tliis country the cause of 
peace and the sinfulness of war need no advertisement ; 
and if the shedding of blood counts, it will soon be so 
in every country in Europe. At the end of this war 
there will assuredly be the will for peace. In a country 
where Christians are also voters, it is their business 
to see that there is also the way. Christianity is a spirit, 
but it is not one that dwells in the air. Good intentions 
are as worthless without good machinery, as machinery 
is without ideals. There was a time when every country 
gentleman who had a dispute with his neighbour about 
a rod of land settled it by the battle-axe. Yet in those 
days there was no lack of men to decry anarchy and 
extol peace. Peace within the State was secured only 
when, backed by the goodwill of such men, there had 
arisen an impartial central authority strong enough to 
coerce all who would not accept its verdicts. The human 
conscience is notoriously less sensitive to the claims of 
international than to those of individual morahty, and 
if within the State we have not yet risen to the stage 
of dispensing with force, how much less so in things 
international. Peace between nations will be secured, 
not by the better-minded nations renouncing armaments, 
but by their being willing to put their arms, for the 
purpose of coercing the recalcitrant, at the disposal of 
some impartial tribunal, or, failing that, of some alliance 
sufficiently wide to be relatively impartial. No such 
machinery would work perfectly at first ; the international 
ethic of which it would be tlie expression is too rudi- 
mentary as yet. But the instinct of international, like 
that of national justice would grow stronger in pro- 
portion as it was enforced, and the improvement of inter- 
national ethic would react on the machinery whicli gave it 
expression. 

But in the meantime what has the Christian to say to 
war, and in particular to this war ? 

The entente policy of Britain during recent years — 
like the older guarantee of Belgian neutrality— was 
undoubtedly intended to preserve peace. Unfortunately, 

13 



WAR, THIS WAR AND 

many if not most Germans regarded it as offensive in 
intention. It may be that but for this impression the 
war-party in Germany would not have been able to force 
on a crisis ; it may be that, but for the entente, they 
would have done so earlier. But wise or unwise, Christian 
or un-Christian, the policy was approved of by at any 
rate the majority of those in this country who interest 
themselves in these problems. The choice which Britain 
had to make last August must be judged in relation to 
the situation of last August, not in relation to the situa- 
tion which would have existed if during the previous 
half-century all the diplomatists of Europe had been 
wiser, and all the nations more Christian, than was as 
a matter of fact the ca.se. 

This country was bound by treaty to resist the viola- 
tion of Belgium, it was bound by an honourable under- 
standing — an obligation not less but more binding — to 
assist France if in our judgement she was wantonly 
attacked. Even at the level of pagan morality we 
could not refuse that help. And if a pagan nation could 
not have refused it, still less could one professedly 
Christian, It is true that it was to our interest to prevent 
the subjugation of these countries, seeing we had fair 
warning that ' our turn would come next '. But the 
fact that it is to one's interest to keep an obligation in 
no whit detracts from its binding force ; it merely 
deprives one's action of any special credit. There is, 
however, a further consideration which goes deeper 
than questions of treaty-obligation. The subjugation 
of Belgium or the ' crushing ' of France does not merely 
mean some alterations of boundaries on a paper map ; 
the happiness of millions for generations to come is at 
stake. Such phrases cover an outrage to hvimanity 
and a calamity for civilization. If so, to resist is essen- 
tially a Christian act, and if effective resistance is only 
possible through war, war with all its horrors and iniquities 
becomes a Christian duty. From the purely Christian 
standpoint, Britain ought to have intervened even if 
no interest, entente or treaty had been involved. Britain 
is not Christian enough to have done that — had she 

14 



THE SERMON (Jn- -TKE-'^foVl^'i-'*' **'''• 

been so, probably other nations would also have 
become Christian enough to have made the original 
aggression impossible. But the fact that Britain would not 
have intervened, unless interest and honour had pointed 
the same way as abstract right does not make inter- 
vention the less a Christian duty ; it merely precludes 
us from pluming ourselves on any special nobility of 
ethic. We have but kept our plighted w^ord ; ' Do not 
even the publicans the same ? 

In a war of this kind what is the duty of the individual 
Christian ? Surely whenever it is the duty of a nation 
to fight it 7nust be the duty of the individual citizen to 
contribute his share in the fighting. (I speak, of course, 
only of the able-bodied male, free from compelling ties, 
and not serving his country in some other equally indis- 
pensable capacity.) Nor is such duty in any way pro- 
portionate to the extent to which he personally approves 
of the object of the war. In any war, just or unjust, 
the difference between victory and defeat has immense 
economic consequences. Were the British fleet sunk 
to-morrow, in three weeks Britain would be starving, 
Grermany overflowing with plenty. When war is once 
declared the individual cannot separate himself from the 
fortunes of his country. Even if he is doubtful as to the 
original obligation of his country to take part in the war 
he simply cannot wash his hands of it. The only choice 
now open to him is to eat his bread in safety at the price of 
other men's blood, or to buy safety for those weaker than 
himself at the risk of his own blood. When the choice 
is between sacrificing self for others, or letting others be 
sacrificed for self, it cannot be doubted which is the more 
Christian course. 

But many who clearly recognize this yet feel a difficulty. 
' Love your enemies,' said Christ. How can I be said 
to love those whom I will to bayonet ? Is there not 
a confusion here ? ' Your enemies,' in the text, means 
those who have done you a personal wrong. The 
individual soldier has no personal grudge against the 
individual in the trenches opposite. On occasion he will 
even fraternize with him. In war the opposition is 

15 



WAR AND THE 8ERM0N ON THE MOUNT 

usually — there arc, of course, exceptions — quite imper- 
sonal. It is the cause, not the individual enemy, that 
is fought against. If an innocent individual is acting as 
the instrument of an evil cause, it is better that he should 
die than the evil cause should triumph- — at least if the 
evil is on a sufficiently large scale. It is better that some 
thousands of Germans should die, fighting nobly for what 
ihey believe a just cause, than that millions of Belgians and 
Frenchmen should live for generations under a degrading 
tyranny. And the soldier who causes their death does not 
act in hate. Soldiers rarely hate, they normally respect, 
their enemies, and respect is the beginning of love. ' To- 
morrow', said a Saxon to an Englishman on Christmas 
Day, ' I fight for my country, you for yours.' 

Again, ' Love your enemies ' does not mean love your 
enemies more than your friends. ' Love all men, even your 
enemies ' — that is what our Lord teaches. Now if by ' love ' 
we mean the exact emotional regard that we have towards 
our nearest and dearest, to love one's enemies is impos- 
sible ; but no less impossible is it to love all men. 
Christian love is not primarily emotional. ' Wish well 
and do good to ' is the essential thing ; and it is possible 
to wish and to do good both ' to them that hate you ' and 
to all men. If the soldier is convinced that with the cause 
for which he is fighting is involved the welfare of humanity 
as a whole, including, therefore, in the long run that of 
Germany also, he can not only shoot the German in the 
trenches opposite without any feeling of personal dislike, 
but he can do so for the love of man. And this is not 
only possible, it is what in nine cases out of ten is actually 
being done. 

But all this concentration on the fact that the soldier, like 
the executioner, is bound sometimes to take life, obscures 
the really vital point. The soldier is before all things a 
man who is ready to die for his country ; and readiness to 
die for others is essentially a Christian thing. 



■■■A ^ >!!!.,■: ." 



PAPERS FOR WAR TIME 



Published at the rate of two papers each fortnight under I 
auspices of a Committee dra\Mi from various Christian bod 
andpohtical parties,the editor beingtheRev.W.TEMPLE,M. 

Price 2d. each ; Is. 6d. per dozen ; 2s. post free, each seric 

Second Series. Already published. 

13. PATRIOTISM. By the Rev. Pekcy Dearmer, D. 

14. SPENDING IN WAR TIME. By Professor E. 
Urwick, M.A. 

15. CHRISTIANITY AND FORCE. By Professor A. 
Hogg, M.A. 

IG. GERMANY AND GERMANS. By Elean 
McDouGAix, M.A. 

17. PHARISAISM AND WAR. By F. Lenwood, M. 

18. THE CURE FOR WAR. By A. Clutton-Buoc 

19. OUR NEED OF A CATHOLIC CHURCH. 1 
the Rev. W. Temple, M.A. 

20. WAR, THIS WAR AND THE SERMON C 
THE ISIOUNT. By Canon B. H. Streeter, M.A 



Jn preparation. 

THE REMOVAL OF MOUNTAINS. By the Autl 

of Pro Christo et Eccleda. 
INTERNATIONAL CONTROL. By Professor W. G. 

Adams, M.A. 
BIOLOGY AND WAR. By Professor J. Artii 

Thomson, LL.D. 
THE PRICE OF BLOOD. By Kenneth Maclenn/ 
LEST WE FORGET. By T. R. W. Lunt. 



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